How Marketplace Manages Bulk App Publishing

Windows Phone Marketplace has been steadily evolving to reflect developer and customer feedback. We recently unveiled the next version of Windows Phone, code named Mango, and talked about how Marketplace is evolving to give developers more of what they’ve asked for. Most notably, Mango will bring support for both app submission and purchase in 19 more countries, improved search and discovery of apps and the introduction of a Web based Windows Phone Marketplace from which customers can shop for apps and install them directly to their Windows Phone. We’ve also maintained and evolved our commitment to transparency in the policies and communications that impact the developer community. Today I want to share another policy that we’re implementing based on input from this community.

In recent weeks a handful of companies have individually published hundreds of apps in a matter of a few days. We call this bulk publishing. While these apps meet our certification requirements and give consumers a wider selection of content, we’re also finding that publishing them in bulk degrades our customers’ experience. By publishing hundreds of apps in a short amount of time, the popular “New” Marketplace list category fills quickly, pushing the other new apps out and reducing the diversity of the shopping experience.

Microsoft’s philosophy is that an app marketplace should balance quality, choice and variety with a great customer experience – which includes easy shopping and discoverability. We offer customers thousands of apps and games, and we don’t want to compromise the quality of our shared customers’ experiences in using – or shopping for – any one of those apps. We’ve evaluated the impact of bulk publishing, reviewed some very thoughtful input from both our user base and our developer community and concluded that we need to take the following steps to restore the balance of choice and experience.

To avoid the scenario where bulk publishing crowds out other apps in Marketplace in the future, effective immediately, we are limiting the number of apps any one developer can have certified in a single day to 20.  Developers creating a large number of apps can still submit all of them for certification, but they will be certified at a maximum rate of 20 per day rather than all at once.  This change helps us retain a balance of choice and customer experience by enabling customers to see a broader and more representative assortment of new apps from the developer community when they see “New” apps every day. As with all policies, the limit is subject to change based on the ongoing evolution of Marketplace and input from customers and developers.

In addition, we are reaching out to the companies who most recently published a large number of apps with similar functionality in a short period of time. We’re offering to work with these developers to explore how they can better take advantage of the Windows Phone platform to improve the functionality of their apps and reduce the need for large numbers of similar apps. Many of the most recently published bulk apps are being removed from Marketplace while these developers update and republish their apps. We’ve also committed to create and share additional guidance and best practices in the near future to help developers create compelling apps that offer localized or targeted experiences, without having to create dozens of unique apps.

I hope that you view the above explanation of the steps we’re taking to manage bulk app publishing as affirmation of our commitment to listen to feedback, make timely changes and to maintain a balance between user experience and developer transparency. As we move toward Mango, we’ll continue listening and doing everything we can to deliver on our commitment to transparency, choice and quality.